Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Window Seat With A View

Those who travel in Mumbai local trains know that getting the window seat is like hitting a jackpot ! And a bigger jackpot if one gets the window seat in the direction of the wind ! Specially in the hot and humid weather ! More so it is a heroic deed if you can achieve this feat in the peak hours or office hours !

Well, coming to the point ! There is more to a window seat than just being a comfortable seat for a short nap or for relaxing by listening to music and reading a book. There are groups of daily passengers who sing in chorus all the way. In the ladies compartment, there are other activities also like knitting, chatting, sharing snacks and even chopping vegetables for the meal to be cooked soon after reaching home in the evening !

I commuted on the Harbour Line of Mumbai locals for more than 20 years ! A daily affair ! Going to the office in the morning and returning in the evening ! One usually catches the same train every day meeting the same passengers daily. You just notice some people and watch silently, you exchange smiles sometimes and you become friends with some who may be sharing the same thoughts or interests. For many years, I also was part of a group of like-minded people. We used to share seats by turn. Singing was a favourite past time. Quite energizing in the mornings ! In the evenings, most of us were tired so we ended up either taking a nap or talking to the friend sitting next to us or standing opposite us. Or sometimes, just looking out of the window. 

Looking out of the window of the local on Harbour Line ! Many would exclaim in wonder ! Goodness ! What's there to look out at ! Everyone knows that on looking out all you can see is the dirty slums and the open drains ! Nothing scenic !  Add to that the pathetic signature smells of different stations ! Alright ! But is that all ? No.

In the mornings, it is rejuvenating to feel the fresh and cool wind on your face, part of the way ; before the foul odours start flowing in. When the train crosses the bridge over the sea, watching the soft sunshine playing with the waves and the fishermen's boats dotting the vast expanse of the sea while the singing group chants stotras, has a calming effect on you and sets a positive mood to embrace a new day. 

As the train moves on, you can see flowers blooming on the plants growing in a solitary tin can. It brings a smile to your face. Beauty finds space in an already cramped shed like home. Wait ! Home after all ! Because only a home can offer you room when there is hardly any room at all !

When you are commuting back home in the beautiful evening twilight, you are reminded of what Emily Dickinson wrote, "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant." The orange tinge of the sunset waves goodbye to you. As it becomes dark, one by one the lights switch on in the apartment windows of buildings in distance and in the slums very close to the tracks. You wonder about the activities going on in the flats. May be those people have already reached home or may be the people at home are waiting for others to return from work and watching TV. 

As far as the slums are concerned, you can see everything inside when the lights are on. Long ago they must have stopped bothering about that. In a small space, there is a small TV,one cot,and racks lining the walls. On one side the clothes are stacked. On the other side is the gas stove with food cooking on it and the very few clean and shining steel utensils neatly stacked in the racks. Somehow, it impresses upon you a sense of orderliness amidst all the chaos of slum life. Is that what you call the zest for life ? A lone bright flower smiling in a tin can .. clean tiles and shining utensils in a very poor home .. all defying the stench growing out of the open drains flowing right next to them. So why do we keep complaining about so many things all the time ? It makes you think.

Thank your stars if you get the window seat and you can look out of the window to see things you may like or you may not, things that will make you uncomfortable and things that will stay with you all your life ! Make your choice !

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’



  1. U have beautifully explained the daily Mumbai local scene , it was relaxing to read that a home gives u room even if there is no room at all....visit my blog at

  2. Awesome interpretation of the daily commute life. Beautifully put it word, a beautiful eye to see the wonderful things other than the slums and the stink, and an amazing person mind to analyse it.


  3. Monika Davessarji thank you for your kind words of appreciation.

    In the sad days of haldiram bhujia being blacklisted, you come up with a blog alu bhujia ! What if it is aloo bhujia and not plain bhujia ! Yummy !

    Will definitely visit to satisfy my bhujia craving otherwise denied !


  4. Dear Anonymous,

    You have chosen to stay anonymous so I don't know who you are.

    Thank you for your kind appreciation. I will always try to live up to it.


  5. You have vividly stated your travel experiences in Mumbai locals;an apt description of the beautiful and not so beautiful


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